Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has reiterated his call for Japan to recognize the country's sovereignty over four Russian-held islands.
Lavrov was answering to a question from a student after he gave a speech at a university in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, on Monday. The student asked him how Russia is going to deal with the territorial issue over the islands.
Lavrov replied that Russians would like their Japanese neighbors to acknowledge the outcome of World War Two, including the full recognition of and respect for Russia's sovereignty over those islands. He added that without it, Russians cannot engage in talks.
Russia controls the four islands. Japan claims them. The Japanese government maintains the islands are an inherent part of Japan's territory. It says the islands were illegally occupied after World War Two.
Japan and Russia agreed in a summit meeting in November of last year to accelerate negotiations on a peace treaty based on a 1956 joint declaration. The declaration states that two of the four islands would be handed over to Japan after the conclusion of a bilateral peace treaty.
Russia insists that even if it hands over the two islands to Japan, it would be purely out of good intentions, and that Japan still needs to recognize the Russian sovereignty over the islands.
Lavrov's remarks apparently reaffirmed Russia's position as he is expected to meet with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono in Germany later this month.